Benefit for stroke victim sells out thanks to community support
By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 7, 2010 1:50 AM
Madison Brown rests her head on the shoulder of her mother, April Brown, Saturday during a benefit barbecue supper for Mrs. Brown who is recovering from a stroke she suffered two months ago. At right is her husband, Eric, and at left family friend Tom Harrison.
Seven-year-old Madison Brown nestled herself between her parents, April and Eric Brown, reaching up to caress her mother's hair before closing her eyes and laying her head on her shoulder.
Just two months earlier those simple gestures would have been nearly impossible -- Mrs. Brown, 30, was in the intensive care unit at Pitt Memorial Hospital following a stroke.
Saturday, two months to the day that she had suffered the stroke, the Browns were surrounded by hundreds of family, friends and strangers at United in Christ Church for a benefit supper and auction. The Browns also have 2-year-old son, Garrett.
The turnout for the supper was so overwhelming that the barbecue sold out sending organizers scrambling to find more to fill the thousands of orders.
The benefit was put on by Mrs. Brown's co-workers at Eastern Medical Associates and members of the United in Christ Church congregation.
An auction featuring cakes, pies, other baked goods and donated items was held following the supper at the church
"We sold 400 plates at Garris Chapel, 1,500 here and another 300 at Trenton Missionary Baptist Church," said Marie Smith, Mrs. Brown's aunt. "We ran out of barbecue and our crowd is overflowing and we are overflowing with joy. We just want to thank everybody for coming out and we hope they were patient with us because it was a little more than we had anticipated.
"I know people are good, but this is just beyond our expectations. McCall's was generous enough to donate, I think, a hundred pounds of barbecue. Of course, Wilber's Barbecue provided the cooking for 22 pigs. We have bought barbecue from Parker's in Wilson. We have bought barbecue from several places. We are shooting for (raising) over $20,000 and I am sure it is going to be greater than that."
She added, "Two months ago today we were in intensive care. Two months later, she is a miracle. We were shocked. Two months ago we could not think beyond that, but we knew God was in control.
"We are going to pay some medical bills. Then we are going to take one day at a time and trust that the good Lord is going to lead us one day at a time."
A steady stream of well-wishers stopped to hug and chat with Mrs. Brown.
"I am doing well," she said. "I just have to say I am truly blessed and I want to thank everybody for their love and support. I have been here (at the church) the whole time. I can't thank everybody enough for what they have done. It is a big turnout. It feels good, it really does."
Mrs. Brown said she had been told that four different counties knew about the fundraiser and that while there were plenty of family and friends in attendance that there were many people she did not know, too.
Mrs. Brown, who is a nursing assistant at Eastern Medical Associates, has returned to work for a few hours a day.
"I am slow, but with the Lord's help I will get there," she said. "I will make it through. I have minimal use of my (right) arm. I walk with a limp, but my speech is better."
She is still taking therapy three hours a day, three days a week.
"I think it (fundraiser) is great that everybody took the time to come out here," Eric Brown said. "I just wish we had enough barbecue for everybody."
Brown said he was not really surprised by the turnout.
"I know a lot of people love us," he said. "In a way I am surprised, but not really, not really. I knew it would be a big turnout. It makes us feel good. You really can't describe it."
He said his wife has shown a "big improvement."
"It (stroke and aftermath) is hard to describe," he said. "It changes your life. In two months, she has improved a lot and two more months you won't ever know it.
"I work with her with her hair, but se won't let me touch the makeup, not yet."
Mrs. Brown joked that she did not trust him with the makeup.
"I do it all myself with my left hand the best I can" she said. "I just truly want to thank everybody for coming out and supporting me and making it a big success."
Her mother, Mary Cruse, agreed
"Wayne County is the best county in North Carolina," she said.
She said he would have never thought the crowd would be so large.
"But we have good family, good friends, good churches," she said. "We thank everyone of them. We are a little bit impatient we want it (recovery) to happen overnight, but we will hold on as long as it takes."
People who wish to make a donation to the April Brown Benefit Fund may send money to United in Christ Church, 1314, Patetown Rd.